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February 12, 2016 / 3 Adar I, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Ehud Olmert’

MK Avigdor Liberman: ‘It’s Israel’s Turn to Help Support Diaspora Jewry’

Saturday, January 9th, 2016

In a small sparsely-furnished office, containing a cherry wood desk, a matching credenza, an Israeli flag, some small personal photos and a large framed print of the father of Zionism, Vladimir Jabotinsky, is seated a man larger than life, the head of Yisrael Beiteinu and former Foreign Minister of Israel: Avigdor Liberman.

When the JewishPress.com met with Liberman late one morning this past week, he was told that most non-Israeli Jews really don’t have a good sense of who he is. So he was asked to explain himself.

ALIYAH, JEWISH CONTINUITY, ABSORPTION

Liberman began this way:

“First of all, my highest priorities are Aliyah, Jewish Continuity and Absorption. My positions are clear right wing without compromise, but very pragmatic.”

One of his pet projects combines all three priorities: he envisions schools of Jewish education everywhere in the Diaspora, along the lines of American schools abroad. Those schools would focus on both Judaism and Zionism.

Liberman explained the need for this educational initiative: “At the Saban meeting, people like [American Jewish journallist] Jeffrey Goldberg talked about the problem of the younger Jewish generation not being so supportive of Israel.”

“He said that the decline in support was due to Israeli government policies. But that’s not the problem,” Liberman said.

The problem is that the “younger generations of Jews don’t really know much about and so don’t care much about Israel.”

This dovetails with Liberman’s preoccupation with Jewish assimilation. He cites statistics and surveys which predict the near total extinction of Jews in only a few more generations.

“Fewer than 10 percent of American Jews have a Jewish, Zionist education. In places like France, Russia, even Canada, there is a 70 percent assimilation rate,” Liberman explains, with horror.

Naturally, the first question is who would fund such a project? Knowing that even many American Jewish Federations have turned away from significant contributions to Jewish day schools, the prospect seems bleak.

But Liberman isn’t looking to the Diaspora as the primary funding source. He explains: “during the 1940’s and ’50’s, Israel was a small, poor country and needed tremendous financial and political support – which it received – from the Jewish Diaspora.

“Now, with Israel’s vibrant economy, it’s our turn to give back and our turn to help support the Jewish people. We are a strong country with a huge budget,” explains Liberman.

Liberman believes that Israel must contribute something on the order of $365 million – which should be met with matching funds – to this vitally important enterprise.

The suavely-dressed, slimmed-down, blue-eyed politician sees this contribution by Israel not just as providing moral support to the waning Diaspora Jewry, but as a crucial investment, “it is for our future as well.”

The idea was first pitched by Liberman nearly a year ago in a speech in the United States. The concept was immediately overshadowed by the subsequent Israeli elections and, increasingly, by the nation’s focus on the then-looming and seemingly catastrophic Nuclear Iran Deal which the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (the U.S., the U.K., France, China and Russia), plus Germany (the P5+1) was negotiating, and then concluded, with Iran.

Liberman believes his concept is critical if there is to remain a global Jewry outside of Israel. Not surprisingly, one of the reasons Diaspora Jewry with a strong Jewish and Zionist identity matters so much is as a steady source for Aliyah.

But the current governing coalition “does not care about the Diaspora,” Liberman said.

This discussion led naturally to the question of why Yisrael Beiteinu walked away from being in the ruling coalition. It’s of course harder to promote enormous new projects from the outside.

Abbas’ ‘UN Bomb” Might Be Proclamation of Independence of New Arab Country

Monday, September 21st, 2015

The most likely “bomb” that Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmud Abbas said he will drop at the end of his speech in the United Nations later this month is a declaration that the PA is an independent country.

Speculation that his bomb will be the announcement of the extinction of the Palestinian Authority or the end of the Oslo Accords does not stand to reason. He has resigned or threatened to resign several times, so officially doing so from the podium of the United Nations would not even qualify as a stink bomb.

As for the Oslo Accords, officially breaking them also would not mean anything. The Agreement exists only as an historical record of one the modern history’s most ignorant, ill–conceived and poisonous ideas, a document that hypnotized the world to grant arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat the Nobel Peace Prize.

Israel Shield wrote here yesterday that Abbas’ “bomb” will be“to say he accepts Israel as the Jewish State and proclaim he is willing to negotiate a full and extensive deal based on the 1967 borders.”

I don’t know if the writer was being funny or serious, but in either case, “Mr. Shield,” Abbas never would make such an announcement unless he wanted one of his brethren to shoot his brains out.

Yes, it would make sense for Abbas to declare Israel as a country for the Jews. It would be a cunning concession that would shut up Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has baited Abbas several times to make such a statement.

No, Abbas won’t do it because taking a step backwards in order to take two steps forward is forbidden in the Arab world when it comes to dealing with Israel. That is why Arafat did not grab the insane offers of former Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, one a suspected crook and the other a convicted crook, to give away all of the land it wants, for the time being, except for 3 percent of it.

The Arab world has never given up on its single-minded goal to erase Israel as a Jewish state. Despite the help of Britain during the period of the Mandate, it was not able to prevent the re-establishment of the State of Israel.

Instead of accepting the United Nations’ recognition of Israel with the Partition Plan’s indefensible borders that would have made it easier for them to overrun the tiny country, the Arabs eagerly threw all their ammunition and weapons against Israel to try to annihilate it immediately. They ended up with the 1949 “Temporary Armistice Lines” that gave Israel much more territory than under the Partition Plan.

Israel overcame economic hardship, undeclared war by Egypt and constant Arab raids until the Six-Day War in 1967, when Israel foiled the attempt by seven surrounding Arab states to finish off the Jews.

Abbas is an Arab Muslim and thinks like one, but he also is a brilliant though narrow-minded politician and magician who has hypnotized the world to accept him as man of peace at the same time he and his regime extol hate, venom and terror against Israel.

When he succeeded Arafat in 2005, he presented a new image of a Palestinian Authority leader, replacing the gun on the holster with a suit and tie. Abbas traveled around the world dozens of times, picking up diplomatic support from every continent and establishing embassies that helped convince politicians and media that the PA is a state for all intents and purposes.

All that was lacking was Israel’s agreement to his conditions, which one by one dropped off as topics of “negotiations” as provided by the Oslo Accords and various declarations by the Bush and Obama administrations.

Ehud Olmert Found Guilty of Fraud in ‘Talansky Affair’

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been found guilty of fraud and breach of trust on a retrial in what has become known as the ‘Talansky Affair.’

The ruling was a unanimous decision handed down by a three-judge panel. Olmert is to be sentenced on May 7.

In 2012, Olmert was acquitted on charges of accepting bribes in cash-stuffed envelopes from New York businessman and philanthropist Morris (Moshe) Talansky. Among the charges were allegations the money changed hands during the time that Olmert served as mayor of Jerusalem and as a minister of trade and industry, before becoming prime minister.

Former Olmert confidant and office manager Shula Zaken paid a high price for her loyalty when she was convicted along with many others. But Zaken was sent to prison with a much lighter sentence resulting from a plea bargain deal in the second corruption case in which Olmert was convicted and sentenced last year. Also in connection with that deal, 

Zaken became a state’s witness in that trial, providing evidence in the form of tape recorded conversations with her boss about receiving the cash.

Israel’s Supreme Court ordered the district court to re-open the current case to hear that evidence, which led to his retrial in the Talansky affair, three years after his acquittal.

Nearly a year ago, in May 2014, Olmert was convicted on charges of taking bribes while serving as mayor of Jerusalem, and sentenced to six years in prison.

The massive Jerusalem real estate scandal known as the “HolyLand affair” rocked the country, bringing one major name after another into the District Court.

Olmert’s attorneys said they would vigorously appeal today’s (Monday, March 31, 2015) verdict, as they did with that last year.

Richard Gere Coming to Israel

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

Richard Gere will be coming to Israel on Sunday.

Gere will be meeting with former president Shimon Peres, and checking out co-existence initiatives by the Peres Center for Peace.

Gere has appeared in over 50 movies, including the well known, “Pretty Women” (an Ehud Olmert favorite) and “An Officer and a Gentleman”.

Hezbollah Planned to Assassinate Prime Minister Olmert

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

Hezbollah planned to assassinate then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2009 in retaliation for the elimination of Hezbollah mastermind terrorist Imad Mughniyeh, according to the London-based Al-Arabi-Al-Jadeed newspaper.

Mughniyeh was killed on February 12, 2008, when his car exploded in the Kafr-Sousa neighborhood in Damascus. Though the assassination was widely attributed to Israel, a recent report by The Washington Post claims the assassination was a CIA-Mossad joint operation.

Al-Arabi’s report claims the Olmert assassination was thwarted by Mohammed Shurba, a high-ranking Hezbollah officer. Shurba was recently arrested by Hezbollah amid concerns that he may be an Israeli agent.

According to the report, Shurba also provided Israel with vital information that helped prevent a Hezbollah terror attack on the Israeli embassy in Azerbaijan in 2009.

As of now, Hezbollah hasn’t released any official response to Al-Arabi’s report. One reason for Hezbollah’s lack of response could be embarrassment over Shurba’s high position in the organization. In recent years Shurba held important roles within the organization, among them, head of the personal security detail of Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s secretary-general.

 

Ehud Olmert’s ‘Talansky Affair’ Re-Opens in Jerusalem District Court

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

The corruption trial of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert — this one relating to wads of cash from Long Island businessman and philanthropist Rabbi Morris “Moshe” Talansky — has reopened in Jerusalem District Court.

Talansky founded The New Jerusalem Fund together with Olmert. He told the Jerusalem District Court in past testimony that over a period of 13 years he gave the former prime minister about $150,000, most of it in cash, earmarked for campaign and personal expenses. Some was intended as a loan, some not.

The court was set to hear testimony from former Olmert aide Shula Zaken, who has turned state’s witness, as well as from Olmert in defense of himself.

The Israeli leader was convicted of breach of trust in the Holyland Complex affair in 2012 and given a suspended sentence of one year in prison and a fine of NIS 75,000 ($21,000). This year he was convicted of lying to the court in testimony about the case, and was convicted again on one count of breach of trust in the same case.

Olmert was sentenced on May 13, 2014, to six years in prison and fined NIS 1.5 million ($430,000), and was to begin serving his sentence yesterday, September 1.

He was acquitted in the Rishon Tours and Talansky affairs, but due to new evidence the Talansky affair was also re-opened today.

All three cases span Olmert’s tenures as mayor of Jerusalem, Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor, Finance Minister and finally as Prime Minister – a period from 1993 to 2009.

Olmert’s Legacy

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

As former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert heads off to jail for corruption, one tries to consider which event will best define Olmert’s legacy.

His role in destroying Gush Katif? His abject failure in the Lebanon war? The Holyland Towers? Simply being the first Israeli Prime Minister sent to jail?

I think Olmert will best be remembered for his attempt to follow up on his success in destroying Gush Katif, by trying to violently destroy the Jewish town of Amona in 2006.

Amona Photo by: Pierre Terdjman/Flash90

Amona
Photo by: Pierre Terdjman/Flash90

Amona Photo by: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

Amona
Photo by: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

What do you think is Olmert’s Legacy?

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